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Healthy Food For Public Housing

9/12/2023

Two master gardener volunteers in front of a table with bins of vegetables
Project leads Terry Smith and Beth Fritcher at the Wilson Hi-Rise Free Farmers’ Market

The Ramsey County Master Gardener Volunteer Program's Gardens for Good project provides free, fresh, home-grown produce, herbs and flowers to residents of a public housing facility in St. Paul. The goal is to improve access to healthy food for residents who may face economic, mobility, or transportation barriers to a healthy diet.


The Gardens for Good project, initiated in 2021, is a partnership between the St. Paul Public Housing Agency and the Master Gardener Volunteer Program in Ramsey County. Master Gardener volunteers grow food and flowers in their own gardens and donate them for distribution at a weekly (2-4 p.m. Thursdays) free "farmer's" market located at the 1300 Wilson Hi-Rise public housing facility on the East side of St. Paul. The market is seasonal, beginning in late June and ending in October. Depending on the season, the total amount of produce offered each week ranges from 75 to 200 pounds.


In addition to the garden fruits and vegetables typically grown in Minnesota home gardens, the Gardens for Good program offer specialty Asian produce such as bitter melon, pak choi, yard-long beans, winter melon and bottle gourd to address the culinary tastes of the substantial Asian population in the Wilson Hi-Rise community.


The Gardens for Good project has become very popular with the residents of Wilson Hi-Rise, many of whom are waiting for the Master Gardner volunteer market team when they arrive to set up the market. During a typical market day, volunteers help 35-45 customers find fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers to take home. Several customers hang around the market to chat, share recipes, or even bring samples of dishes they have made using the market ingredients.


This is an enjoyable and rewarding project where Master Gardener volunteers can immediately see how much their gardening efforts can mean to others.



Please join us!

Terry Smith Gardens for Good Project Lead


Beth Fritcher Gardens for Good Project Lead


Laurel Watt

Gardens for Good Project Lead



This project supports the Local Foods priority of the Master Gardener Volunteer Program: Promote the use of sustainable techniques to grow local food on multiple scales and in different types of locations



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